Ctg customs to auction off abandoned cargoes

Chittagong Customs House is set to expedite the auction of abandoned cargoes with a view to clearing the jammed port yards.

As of yesterday, a total of 5,800 TEUs (twenty feet equivalent units) of loaded containers, imported between 2013 and July this year, are lying on the port yards.

The value of the goods in the containers is worth about Tk 2,500 crore, including the duties.

According to rules, importers need to take delivery of their consignments within 30 days of the goods being unloaded from the ships.

If the importer fails to receive the consignments within the period, the port authority hands over the import documents to the customs authority, who then issues a notice to the importer.

If the importer does not take delivery within 15 days of the notice, the goods can be auctioned off.

Due to a manpower shortage, regular auctions were not held, which led to piling up of a huge number of containers at the port yards, hampering the operational activities of the country’s premier seaport, said AFM Abdullah Khan, commissioner of Chittagong Customs House.

The government too is being deprived of huge amounts of revenue.

Following acute vessel and container congestion and upon request from port users, the Chittagong Port Authority last month started shifting the containers to a newly built yard.

But the transfer is going at a snail’s pace.

In the last few weeks, only 500 TEUs of containers were shifted.

To clear the congestion, the containers need to be auctioned and cleared off from the port yards fast, said Giasuddin Chowdhury, general secretary of the Bangladesh Container Shipping Association, Chittagong chapter.

Importers tend to not take delivery of the import goods if they find the market price to be less than the import costs, according to sources in the port and the customs house.

The other reasons include: failure to get clearance permit, particularly in case of import of old machinery, or unwillingness to pay fines in case of detection of any irregularities. Analysing the import documents of the consignments, it appears that the imports comprised of: vehicles and motor parts worth about Tk 530 crore, fruits and edible commodities of Tk 510 crore, and raw materials like bitumen, stone, cement clinker and salt worth Tk 340 crore.

There were electronic items, steel pipes, steel structures, machinery parts as well as industrial raw materials, too. New hires were made by the Chittagong Customs House recently, so regular auctions should be expected from now onwards, Khan said. On August 13 sixteen containers containing 3.60 lakh kilograms of orange were auctioned off, while six containers carrying 1.49 lakh kg of apple were auctioned off on Tuesday.

The apples were imported by Chittagong-based fruit importer and trader Azizia Trade International from China in May. Contacted, Md Jashim Uddin, managing director of the importing firm, said they did not take delivery as they found the quality of the fruits to be unsatisfactory. They took some time as they were trying to negotiate the price with the exporter, he added.

Source: The Daily Star